AstraZeneca appears to have reached settlements to resolve the lion’s share of the 22,500 Seroquel lawsuits that have been filed involving allegations that their atypical antipsychotic causes diabetes.
The company issued a press release on Monday announcing that it has agreed to pay $198 million to settle 17,500 personal injury lawsuits related to Seroquel side effects. The settlements account for two-thirds of the Seroquel litigation the drug maker faces.
In addition to the settled cases, another 2,900 Seroquel lawsuits had been dismissed as of June 29, the company announced. All of the lawsuits contain allegations that AstraZeneca failed to warn that the use of Seroquel could cause substantial weight gain and significantly increased the risk of contracting diabetes.
Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) is an atypical-antipsychotic that is a top selling drug for AstraZeneca, generating nearly $5 billion a year in sales. Originally approved by the FDA in 1997 for the treatment of schizophrenia, it has been frequently prescribed off-label for uses that were not approved as safe and effective at the time, such as anxiety, obsessive dementia, compulsive disorders and autism.
The latest settlements average about $11,000 per claim, which is a much lower cost to resolve the cases than many analysts had predicted. The settlement agreements were reached just as the federal judge overseeing cases consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida as part of an MDL had determined that the multidistrict litigation had run its course and was beginning to remand thousands of cases back to their home districts for trial. The federal lawsuits had been centralized under one court for pretrial litigation.
Most of the unresolved cases at this stage are pending in state courts, primarily in Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Alabama.
As of the end of June, AstraZeneca had paid about $711 million in legal defense costs fighting Seroquel product liability lawsuits.